The term “intelligent
building” has been in use since the early 1980s and you would think that a globallyaccepted definition of the
attributes of an intelligent building would have been established by now. Well,think again. Although several
organizations have attempted to establish a universal definition, there are a multitude of definitions with different levels of detail and
varying degrees of emphasis on various aspects of building intelligence.
The first definition,
coined by the Intelligent Buildings
Institute, defines an intelligent building as “one which provides a
productive and cost-effective environment through optimization of four
basic elements: structure, systems, services and management, and the
interrelationship between them.” According
to this initial definition, an intelligent building is one that optimally matches its four elements to
the users’ needs with an emphasis on the technology that makes the
interrelationship between the elements possible.
As intelligent buildings began to take hold around the world
in the late 1980s and 1990s, many competing definitions were put forward.
In Europe, the European Intelligent Buildings
Group coined a new definition stating that an intelligent building “creates
an environment which maximizes the effectiveness of the building’s occupants while at the same time enabling efficient management of resources with minimum life-time costs of hardware and
facilities,” tilting the spotlight towards the occupant’s needs to be served by
technology. In Asia, the definitions
focused on the role of technology for automation and control of building functions.
In the late 1990s and early
2000s, the intelligent building spotlight tilted towards energy efficiency
and sustainability with the introduction of the BREEAM
code (1990) and the LEED program (2000).
In the late 2000s, given the increasing convergence
of intelligence and sustainability, a Frost
and Sullivan research paper commissioned by the Continental Automated Buildings Association,
coined the term “Bright Green Buildings”
for buildings that are both intelligent and green.
More recently, definitions are starting to take into account
the emergence of Internet of Things technologies,
applications and their impact on intelligent buildings. A recent research
report by Memoori highlighted the
emergence of a new Building
Internet of Things (BIoT) defined as “the overlaying of an IP network, connecting all the building
services monitoring, analyzing and controlling [the building] without the
intervention of humans.” Memoori predicts that the traditional Building
Automation Systems (BAS) will evolve into a BIoT over the next five years. BIoT technologies and applications are poised
to deliver increased efficiencies in all aspects of building intelligence.
Today, major shifts are occurring in the way buildings are designed, operated and used. Corporate
real estate, facilities and IT departments stand to benefit greatly from the
use of building intelligence in order to meet space optimization, energy efficiency and connectivity challenges at a time when changing workplace
demographics come with increasing occupant expectations of modern and flexible space design, improved comfort, productivity, and
Although there are multiple and evolving perspectives on the
subject, it is becoming increasingly clear that an intelligent building is a connected and efficient building.
A connected building boasts an integrated
communications infrastructure that supports wired and wireless networks and
applications. It also facilitates person-to-person, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications within the building and with the outside world using a state of the art
intelligent, flexible, wired and wireless
platform. The platform supports wired
LAN, Wi-Fi, in-building wireless, audio/visual, sensors, lighting and
building management applications. Buildings are also becoming cloud connected
as an essential part of smart grids and smart cities.
An efficient building leverages a state-of-the-art connectivity
platform to address key corporate real estate, facilities and IT challengesto improve energy efficiency, space
utilization and occupant satisfaction. In an efficient building, the intelligent connectivity platform is
easily adaptable to changes in space design or communications technologies. A
high density sensor network integrates with other building systems to provide
fine-grained occupancy-based control of building systems for optimal energy use
and occupant comfort while providing a real-time and historical view of occupancy patterns.
At a time when the design and utilization patterns of a
building’s individual and common spaces are undergoing significant changes, efficiency
expectations continue to increase.
This is fueled by the increase in connected
devices, sensors and BIoT applications. As the definition of intelligent buildingscontinues to evolve, buildings are
becoming increasingly connected and efficient.
What is your definition of an intelligent building? Do you
feel that connectivity and efficiency are essential to validating an
intelligent building? Leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to respond.